On Sept. 19, the Music Critics Association of North America (MCANA) launched Classical Voice North America, a new web journal of music criticism and commentary written by its members and occasional guest contributors. “The idea is to provide increased coverage of classical music,” says MCANA president Barbara Jepson, who writes for the Wall Street Journal‘s “Leisure & Arts” and other national publications, “at a time when it has been reduced or eliminated in traditional print outlets. And we aim to provide that coverage in a way that utilizes the myriad capabilities of the Web to enhance our writing with hyperlinks, video and audio, conveying the richness of classical music-making today.”

Classical Voice North America (CVNA) is writer-run and writer friendly: There are no “work for hire” agreements; rights revert to authors after publication. The story lineup during CVNA‘s first official week of publication includes trenchant observations on the Salzburg Festival by former New York Times critic and editor John Rockwell, author of Outsider and All American Music; a round-up by MCANA critics of major premieres in their regions this fall; an insightful preview of a new series at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Wall Street Journal critic Heidi Waleson that seeks to match the music-making to the art in its galleries; a report on an unusual orchestra in prosperous Singapore by Canadian critic Robert Markow and more. Periodic features in the future will include “Composer’s Corner” and “Performer’s Perspective,” where leading classical music figures sound off on issues in the arts.

The idea for Classical Voice North America came from Robert Commanday, former music critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, founder of San Francisco Classical Voice, and a past president of MCANA. Project leaders include Nancy Malitz, publisher of Chicago on the Aisle, who has developed websites for Gannett Publications; John Lambert, a co-founder of CVNC (Classical Voice North Carolina); and Donald Rosenberg, immediate past president of MCANA, former critic of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland and author of The Cleveland Orchestra Story: “Second to None.”

Founded in 1959, MCANA is the only North American organization for professional classical music critics and has included among its ranks such luminaries as the late Harold Schoenberg, Paul Hume and Irving Lowens. In 2004, it presented the first symposium on music criticism since the 1940s in conjunction with the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University. Each year, it offers seminars and workshops in the U.S. and abroad for members. The current roster includes contributors to the Baltimore Sun, Cincinnati Enquirer, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Los Angeles Times, Musicalamerica.com; NewMusicBox, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, Toronto Star, and the Wall Street Journal, as well as program annotators, bloggers and radio commentators/producers.

(Send press releases or story ideas to CVNC.editor@gmail.com.)